Amid thunder and lightning, U-M undergraduates streamed into a large white tent at Elbel Field taking refuge from the rain.
Beginning at 6:30 a.m. May 1, the tent served as a welcoming station where volunteers offered a wide variety of fruit, bagels and lots of coffee as students awaited directions to Michigan Stadium for Spring Commencement.
Torrey Wigfield took a moment to record a video message for his brothers that would later be displayed at the Big House.
“Today is the pinnacle of what the Michigan experience can be,” said Wigfield, a Cincinnati native who received his degree in theatre. “Even walking here in the rain was so much fun.”
Justin Sawkin of Clinton Township made sure he didn’t miss a thing. He stayed up all night before walking down to Elbel Field at 6 a.m.
“I’m excited about seeing President Obama, but passing into the real world is the biggest thing to me,” said Sawkin, who received a degree in mechanical engineering.
Susan Bopp waved one arm in the air, while holding a cell phone to her ear, excitedly trying to locate her friends in the sea of graduates.
“It just started to rain as we were waiting for the bus,” the Farmington Hills native who received an architecture degree said, adding her clear rain poncho kept her mostly dry. “I’m looking forward to being with my family and friends today.”
Malachi Zussman-Dobbins stood flanked by his friends Hannah Bent and Allison Wollack as the three recorded a video greeting.
“To my family and friends, thanks for an incredible four years,” said Zussman-Dobbins, an Ithaca, N.Y., native who majored in economics, political science and Spanish.
“Go Blue!” Bent yelled, as the video concluded.
The three arrived at Elbel Field at 6 a.m. with plans to stick together all day, said Bent, of Cincinnati, who majored in environmental science.
“This was a great way to end our university experience,” said Wollack, a Washington, D.C., native who majored in urban studies.
Nettie Richard, administrative assistant/entrance screener, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers Security and Entrance Services, describes the most important aspect of doing her job: “To be very understanding of the people you will meet — always be aware of their feelings and be as helpful as they can to make their stay or visit a positive one.”